Course in Guatemala helps undergraduate students connect to global health

“Any global health experience helps you realize the commonalities and differences in health care around the world,” says Shannon Pirrie, DNP, CNM, specialty director of the Nurse-Midwife Program at CU College of Nursing . “It’s quite telling to see the work people are doing in other countries with far fewer resources and education than us.”

In 2016 and 2017, Pirrie participated in a scholarship at the Trifinio southwestern region of Guatemala, where she trained nurses and midwives. She now characterizes the fellowship as an adventure that has changed the way she views healthcare at home and abroad.

“The biggest takeaway is that the similarities and barriers we face in our work in Colorado and Trifinio are all pretty similar,” says Pirrie. “This program shows how we can break down some of those barriers.”

In 2023, undergraduate students from University of Colorado College of Nursing will have an unprecedented and life-changing opportunity to participate in a community/population health clinical experience where they will work in partnership with their Guatemalan colleagues in and around the Trifinio clinic.

About the course

During a two-week course, undergraduates will experience the reality of caring for people in a low-resource setting. Whether overseas or in Colorado, this type of clinical experience is required for students enrolled in the traditional learning pathway who are due to graduate in May 2023. Travel dates for the course are May 5 to February 18 or from April 2 to 15, 2023.

“We are thrilled to offer this truly transformative learning experience to eligible students,” says CU Nursing Senior Instructor Pamela Prag, CNM, MS, MPH. “This course will change the way you think about healthcare in a way that cannot be replicated elsewhere.”

Prag will lead the course, joined by CU Nursing Assistant Professor of Clinical Teaching Jennifer FisherDNP, WHNP and Assistant Professor Jennifer Dailey VailIA, WHNP-BC, DNP.

About the clinic

Located in the rural coastal lowlands near the border of Chiapas, Mexico, Trifinio is the poorest part of Guatemala, where more than 60% of children test positive for parasites due to unclean water and poor sanitation.

The Trifinio Center for Human Development meets the health needs of the region. The site includes a birthing center with two delivery rooms and a nursery. One of Trifinio’s largest employers is a banana plantation which funded the construction, maintenance and operation of the clinic.

In 2011, the Center entered into a partnership with the CU Center for Global Healthwhich gives students and faculty a chance to learn and grow professionally while working alongside their Guatemalan colleagues and developing skills as a global citizen.

Although the Global Health program took a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, this particular course is a new opportunity for undergraduate students. CU College of Nursing recently assumed management of a community/population health clinical experience as part of its Global Health Nursing programming.

Eligibility, costs

Any senior at CU College of Nursing who is enrolled in the traditional BSN pathway and graduating in May 2023 is eligible to apply. Ten students for each block will be eligible to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience

Most workers and patients at the Trifinio Clinic do not speak English, so a basic understanding of Spanish is highly recommended.

Program fees are estimated at $1,950. However, the fee does not cover airfare, some meals, personal expenses and visa fees. (Round-trip airfare to Guatemala from Denver International Airport and back ranges from $360 to $700, according to an analysis of online travel sites.)

Accommodation and most meals will be provided close to the clinic, which will give students a sense of what it is like to live in a vibrant Central American farming community.

Eligible students can apply for the Global Scholarship linked in the app.

The application deadline for this course is 2 September 2022. To apply or request information, visit the course homepage.

Learn more through this video and this booklet.


Guatemala for graduates too!

From January 7-21, 2023, eligible graduate students from CU College of Nursing will have the chance to participate in an immersive clinical experience in Guatemala.

Attendees will have a first-hand opportunity to provide patient care across a wide range of diverse cultures of the population. Students will learn strategies to effectively advocate for patients, families, and the underserved to challenge policies that create health disparities. Experiences will occur in both urban and rural settings, providing a unique and solid perspective on healthcare in Guatemala.

The program is aimed at CU FNP, PNP, WHNP and nurse midwifery nursing students, all with basic Spanish comprehension skills.

The course will be led by CU Nursing Professor of Clinical Teaching and Associate Dean of Clinical and Community Affairs Rosario Medina, PhD, PNP-BC, ACNP, CNS. FAANP. Medina will be joined by CU Nursing Senior Instructor of Clinical Faculty and Clinical Director of Primary Care and Pediatrics, Megane ChampionFPN.

Learn more about the program and request information about the CU Anschutz in Guatemala Clinical Immersion Homepage.

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